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No, The Australian Government Did Not Just Free All Children From Immigration Detention

Heralded as a victory for human rights, it was more of a political move to force Malcolm Turnbull's hand.

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Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young set the internet in a flurry when she put out this Facebook post on Monday afternoon, seeming to trumpet that the Senate had ended the mandatory detention of children.

The post was shared over 4,000 times, and the achievement was heralded by refugee activists in Australia. The Mamamia website tweeted the news with the headline "All children will be released from detention centres by Christmas."

Only thing is, it's not true. The Senate did pass a bill to remove children from onshore immigration detention centres, but it still has to go back to the House of Representatives to get passed before it becomes law.

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Supported by the Greens, Labor and crossbenchers, the amendment was designed to force prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's hand.

Senator Hanson-Young spoke to BuzzFeed News about why she moved the motion.

"I want him to accept these changes," she said.

"I want him to move away from Tony Abbott's policies and this is the opportunity. I imagine Peter Dutton will be a die hard for the Abbott policies but this is Malcolm's chance to show things have changed."

"It's up to the government, it could happen tomorrow. If they want to reject it they'd probably want to do it quickly."

Another thing - Even if passed, the bill would not affect the children being held in offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, but it would see the 112 children being held in immigration detention in Australia (onshore) freed.

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The Greens amendment also called for the mandatory reporting of abuse and would give journalists access to detention centres.

They’re hoping it will put prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in an awkward position where he is forced to take ownership of Abbott-era polices that keep children in immigration detention.

The image shared by the Greens has been criticised for being misleading, with commenters on Sarah Hanson-Young's Facebook page accusing the party of using "irresponsible language."

So, if you support releasing children from immigration detention it's not time to celebrate just yet.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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